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Category Archives: Birth Center Birth

Lowering the Risks of Interventions During Birth

Childbirth is a collaborative effort.

As the different elements of the process work harmoniously, there is often a safer and more productive outcome. Compassionate emotional support and comfort measures hold the power to dramatically reduce certain birth risks and even surgical interventions. The birth community is now publishing more research on the benefits of birth support and how a strong support system can actually affect your birth experience in a positive way.

What’s the verdict?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has published their research on birth support and how midwives are making strides by improving the birth experience nationwide. After establishing that a woman is low-risk, she may benefit from less medical intervention that could prove stressful for her or her baby during labor.

In this research they have also identified that it’s not all about experiencing less pain.

With an epidural alone, mothers might feel less physical pain but can still be significantly affected by anxiety and birth trauma without access to a support system. Continuous emotional support, affirmations and comfort measures have been shown to dramatically shorten the duration of labor and lower the risk for operative deliveries.

When midwives, medical staff, and doulas work cooperatively with a woman in labor, they are able to focus attention on empowering them through the experience and finding natural ways to comfort and encourage the progression of birth safely. Changing positions, massage, intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring and pushing at the mother’s comfortable pace reduces cesarean risks and can also reduce birth trauma and stress during birth.

This is important news for babies to be.

As hospitals and birth centers shift toward this holistic way of thinking, it normalizes birth practices that shy away from medical interventions and pain management. Acknowledging the importance of a strong support system in the birth space will empower women to make their own decisions for their baby’s birth and create a birth plan that is more attune to their specific needs.

When you have a carefully assembled team in place, you can feel confident that you’re receiving all the attention and care you want and nothing you don’t, without compromising safety.

A strong support system matters!

As you prepare for birth, assembling your support system is just as important as deciding your birth preferences. Talk to your care provider, your birth center, and birth support professionals about your options and resources that will customize your birth experience to it’s fullest potential.

To Hat or Not to Hat

It’s National Hat Day and although we appreciate the value of a a great hat, there’s a time and a place.

It has become customary to put a little knit cap on your baby’s brand new noggin to keep them nice and toasty just after birth. Although it sounds like a great plan to keep your baby warm, it can actually disrupt valuable bonding and hormone production, and may result in an overheated baby!

We all love that sweet baby smell.. Johnsons and Johnsons tried to bottle it.. there’s a reason why we love to smell babies, especially our own!

Skin to skin contact has some incredible benefits immediately after birth and as your baby is getting introduced to their new environment. This contact benefits the mother as much as baby, and begins the bonding process that will be important during their breastfeeding journey. Skin to skin improves a baby’s respiration, regulates their body temperature and reduces stress and anxiety. The first hour after birth is important for the infant as it’s their first opportunity to become acquainted with their parents, allowing them to become more emotionally stable and confident as they age.

When your are skin to skin with your baby and able to smell your baby, your body releases Oxytocin, the hormone that rules labor and is known as the LOVE hormone. Smelling your babys head releases oxytocin, which helps your uterus contract, helps expel your placenta and minimize bleeding. Oxytocin also helps you fall in love with your baby.

So why do they put a hat on your baby?

The head and face are important for a newborn’s natural instincts to acquaint with the mother’s scent, warmth and heartbeat. Newborns will nuzzle into their mother’s chest and and begin searching for their mother’s breast. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone released in the mother when her baby’s scent is nearby, that triggers the final stages of labor and increases milk production. This is one of the many beautifully simple ways that nature has perfected the childbirth process, and that cute tiny hat is getting in the way!

When mom is available, she can regulate her baby’s temperature with her OWN BODY and no hat is needed. Yes.. that’s right.. when baby is skin to skin with mom, mothers temp will increase or decrease to heat or cool her baby! Pretty incredible!

So when should you choose a hat?

If your baby is born premature, underweight or has certain medical complication, a hat may be a good idea. In some of these situations, the mother or baby is not well enough to utilize skin to skin contactWhen skin to skin contact isn’t possible, hats, swaddling and warmers might be the only way to regulate your newborn’s temperature. If baby is able to be held, but mom isn’t available, Dad or another family member or friend can hold baby skin to skin.

This period after birth is unique and shouldn’t be interrupted by anything, including a tiny hat.

Some birth professionals say that babies remember birth. This period of bonding is unique in that it is the first impression your baby has of this great big new world. These impressions are theoretically associated with the way adults perceive the world, so we should make it count!

Besides, there’s plenty of opportunities for cute hats once your baby is a little older.

Birth Story: Elijah

August 18th, 2011 Birth Center Water Birth
A Mother’s Birth Story of her Second Son

I was driving to work on my last day of work. It was two weeks before the baby’s due date. I felt a few contractions on my way to work but they stopped when I got to work. I got off work thrilled that I had two weeks to relax, clean and prepare for the new baby. At least I thought so, but the baby had other plans.

I got home at about 7:30pm and, like any other pregnant woman, went to the bathroom again for the millionth time that day. While in the bathroom, I noticed that I started spotting and knew that the baby will come sooner than I planned. I went to pack my bag with the baby clothes and few items that I needed. I called my midwife and told her that I was spotting so that she would be prepared to wake up at night if I went into labor. I went up to go shower and prepare a few more things while I told my husband to prepare some snacks and call the babysitter for my older son.

Right after I got out of the shower, my water broke and started leaking out. It was at about 11:45 pm and at first I was not sure if it was my water but when the contractions started coming quickly after that and strong, I knew that I was right. After my first contraction, the next one came in ten minutes. The one after that in seven minutes. After that they were coming every 3-5 minutes and getting stronger and more intense with each contraction. I told my husband to call the babysitter and get them to come over ASAP and to call the midwife again. I was lying down most of the time on my side. I still felt like I needed to pee every 5 minutes and was irritated by it but went anyway. I was even more irritated every time I went because I would get a contraction on my way to the bathroom, a contraction while I peed and then another contraction on my way back to the bed or couch. So in other words, if I moved, my contractions came every 30 seconds to a minute and if I was lying down, they would come every 3 to 5 minutes. When the baby sitter came, we left right away to the birth center knowing that the baby was going to make me work extra hard after working all day and didn’t want to wait. So much for relaxing for two weeks, I thought.

2 We got to the birth center at 2:30am and by then I was moaning to get through every contraction. Before I was in labor, I told my husband that I wanted him to massage me and showed him a list of things that I wanted but once I started labor, all I needed was him to hold my hand. If he tried to massage me, I could not concentate on relaxing during the contractions and felt worse in the process. I told him that he can squeeze my hand and nothing more. Once I was in the birth center at 2:30am, the midwife checked me and said that I was 8+ cm dilated and that I can get in the tub. I thought that when I was in the tub that I would feel better but because my labor was progressing so quickly, I was in just as much pain and it kept getting worse.

My other midwife came to help with the delivery and within minutes told me that I can take my bottoms off. I asked her if she really thought that the baby would come that quickly and she said that the baby could come in the next contraction. I was like WHAT!! I just started my labor! I am so not ready for this!

She was not joking. Within the next few contractions, that were now coming every minute, I felt the baby start crowning. When I had my first son, I was cut and then I tore 3rd degree. It took 45 minutes to stitch me back and it took months for me to start feeling normal again. My biggest fear with my second was that I did not want a tear. I expressed this fear to my midwife during my prenatal visits and she told me that when the baby is crowning it will be intense and it is 3called the ring of fire because it really feels like it. She also told me that if I feel it, it’s a good sign and that it means I did not tear yet. If I don’t feel it, it means I had a tear. SO, when I felt the baby crown and I felt the ring of fire, I was telling myself that it’s a good thing, I did not tear. I just kept repeating it in my head during the pushing phase till he was born. My midwives kept reminding me to breathe. I knew that with him coming so fast that I should not push hard like they say in the hospitals. I knew that the faster he came out, the higher my chance of getting a tear was. May I say that it was hard not to push hard because all my body wanted to do was push as hard as I can.

I gave birth to my second son at 3:24am in the water and my husband got to catch him. He was a small 6 pounds 6 ounces and only 19.5 inches long. He was born two weeks before my birthday. He was not breathing and his heart rate was in the 50s, my midwife later informed me. The midwives stayed so calm and started giving him oxygen and rubbing him to get him crying. He did and is now the healthiest baby ever.

And guess what, I did not tear. I did get a skid mark because he came out so fast but it healed on its own and it did not need stitches. Boy, was I thrilled. And my blessing was that my labor started at 11:45 pm and I had him at 3:24 am the next morning! The labour was less than 4 hours! I did not relax for two weeks but I did have a very good experience at the birth center with my birth. I had all the privacy that I needed and great midwives. Big brother was excited for his new brother and runs to him first thing every morning. Thanks to my wonderful midwives, Christina and Kristin, at Birthways for making my experience wonderful! And thanks, Chantal, for helping us be prepared!

Happy Parents

Birth Story: Surrogate Baby S

Birth Center Surrogate Birth

I was a surrogate for some friends of mine, I’ll call them Momma S and Daddy S. We had a wonderful pregnancy! They were able to come to every midwife appointment, and were in every way involved in the pregnancy and birth of their baby boy.

At 40 weeks gestation, we were still pregnant, so we decided to get a cervical check, just to see if anything was changing. We were at a whopping 1cm, so I started taking some herbs to help ripen my cervix, in addition to Evening Primrose Oil. Two days later, on Wednesday, I went to acupuncture. I was hoping for labor on Wednesday night, but nothing happened. On Thursday, I was having some practice pressure waves – they were about a 0 on a scale of 1-10, and were roughly 10 minutes apart, so I knew that it wasn’t labor. So, I went back for another acupuncture treatment. When I left acupuncture, the pressure waves were slightly uncomfortable, and about 7-8 minutes apart. However, I was still able to do everything I was before. I didn’t have to stop to breathe through any. I was hopeful since they were a bit uncomfortable, so I texted Momma S and told her that I was hopeful that this was it, and to be prepared for a phone call in a few hours. And then they started to space out again. At this point, we were 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant. Disappointed, I texted Momma S again, and told her that they were fizzling out to about 10-15 minutes apart again, and suggested we all get some sleep.

So, I went to the bathroom and found that I had some bloody show, but I still didn’t think much of it. I drank some water, went to bed at just before12:00am, and was laying down playing Words with Friends, and instead of fizzling out, the pressure waves actually got closer together!!!! … first 9 minutes apart, then 8, then 7, then 6, then 5, then 3, then back to 5. And they had some intensity!!! So, at 12:30am I figured, “This is IT”, called my mom, told her to come over, called Momma S and Daddy S, told them to head over, and I got back up. Momma and Daddy S live about 2 hours away, so I knew we had some time before they got here. In childbirth class, we talked about different ways to labor, and I quickly realized how right our teacher was when she told us that we needed to be open to changing what we think we will want! Prior to labor, I was convinced that I was going to have light back rubs, and use the massage roller on my back during pressure waves. Turns out, I didn’t really want anyone to touch me between waves, and during them, I wanted lots of counter-pressure on my lower back. =)  I also found it helpful to sit on a birthing ball, and hold onto the arm of my couch and allow the rest of my body to go limp during a wave, just hanging from the couch.

By the time the baby’s parents arrived at 2:30am, I was READY to go to the birth center and get my butt in the tub! We finally got out of the house and into the car at 3:15am, and to the birth center at 3:40am. I was surprised that it took longer than I anticipated to get into the car, but that the ride to the birth center didn’t seem as long as I thought it would. I just divided the amount of time of the drive by how far apart my pressure waves were, and estimated the number of waves that I would have on the way. After each one, I knew we were that much closer, and before I knew it, we had arrived!

The midwife checked me and said that I was dilated to a 5 – YAY! I was pumped… until she told me that she didn’t want me to get into the tub yet – she didn’t want my labor to stall… so she sent me to the shower and my IM (Intended Mother) was great about helping get the water beating on my back and applying pressure where I needed it. She was Wonderful! However, after about an hour, I was OVER the shower…I wanted in that tub!!!

The midwife told us that I could get out and we could get in the tub in about 20 minutes because they had to wait for more hot water, so I stood at the bed, leaned over a birthing ball and demanding counter-pressure with each pressure wave… once I was in the tub, I realized that I was a lot more bouyant than I thought I would be! And it was harder for people to put pressure on my lower back, so I leaned against the tub, and used my legs to push myself back into the wall of the tub to get my much-wanted counter-pressure.

I was having some trouble with focusing and relaxing, so they put my Hypnobabies “Easy First Stage of Labor” track on…and that made ALL the difference!!!! Momma S and my mother both said that they saw a HUGE difference in how relaxed I was as soon as the track came on. I was able to sleep between pressure waves some, had some back labor (he was still posterior), and I KNEW when I hit transition… it was SOOOOO different from the previous pressure waves that I asked my Momma S to go get the midwife. Everyone else knew I had hit transition too because my vocalizations had changed. But, I was still sleeping between pressure waves! =)

I had some trouble with pushing at first because I had a little bit of a lip of my cervix left, and from pushing, it started getting swollen, so my midwife helped move it aside until baby’s head was past it. I pushed for a total of 1 hour and 10 minutes, but once the lip was discovered and moved out of the way, I was only effectively pushing for 31 minutes.

Baby S was born at 8:00am in the water, and was still in the caul! The best part of all of this is that Momma S caught him!!! Daddy S cut the cord, and it was wonderful! Only 8 hours of labor from start to finish. As soon as Baby S was born, he was in his mommy’s arms, wrapped up, and introduced to his waiting family members and my son, who were all patiently waiting in the waiting area. Momma S was able to put Baby S to breast quickly and he took to nursing right away. Momma S was able to do this because she induced lactation during the pregnancy. Then the new family of 3 spent some time bonding while my midwife stitched me up from my small tear. After a couple of hours, we got to measure Baby S. He weighed in at 9 lbs 5 oz and was 21.5” long.

The birth of Baby S was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had as was watching Momma S and Daddy S see their son for the first time – words just cannot describe how elated I was to see it, and how it felt to be a part of helping them become a family. His birth was so incredibly empowering and I actually felt even MORE empowered when I heard how much he weighed! Within hours of Baby S’s birth, we all left and returned to the comforts of home for recovery, bonding, and being with our families.

My first birth with my son was in a hospital with interventions galore. It was painful; it was scary; it was dangerous for both me and my son. My blood pressure dropped, his heart rate dropped to dangerously low levels, I was cut (episiotomy) without permission; he was *taken* from my body, not birthed. It was traumatic. This birth was everything that I ever wanted (but didn’t get) with my first birth. It was peaceful; it was calm; it was NOT painful… it was intense, but Pain is not a word I would use to describe it. I would choose natural childbirth every time, and I would do this all again.

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